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Cold Comfort Farm

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  38,140 ratings  ·  3,000 reviews
Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right.
Paperback, 233 pages
Published October 26th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published September 8th 1932)
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Rebecca Plenty of people, from the U.K. especially, prefer the book. It's certainly worth reading! It gives you a slightly different take on the story. (I…morePlenty of people, from the U.K. especially, prefer the book. It's certainly worth reading! It gives you a slightly different take on the story. (I loved the movie and the book.)(less)

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3.91  · 
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 ·  38,140 ratings  ·  3,000 reviews


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Better Eggs
Update I've just watched the film. It's even better than the book, by a long way. It's very affectionate, and very much played for gentle laughs. The cast is fantastic, some of the best actresses around including Eileen Atkins and Joanna Ab Fab Lumley, Stephen Fry and Ian McKellan. The attention to detail was stunning. Everything had been thought of - the lighting, colours and even face makeup of the women changed to reflect the lessening of the stranglehold Aunt Ada Doom had on the Starkadders ...more
Shovelmonkey1
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of waugh and the 1930s
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
I imagine that Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm from the artfully distressed comfort of a small garret-like room. Clad in a light tweed and perched gracefully in front of an oversized front strike, Smith-Corona type writer with a cup of tea in bone china cup and saucer just out of reach of the return of the barrel of the typewriter. I can also imagine her gently cackling to herself in polite and proper manner as she clattered out the lines which would come together to form the world of Col ...more
Manuel Antão
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Muriel Spark-ish Tartness: "Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons


The first two-thirds of it are much funnier than the last third. Everything gets wrapped up incredibly neatly, which I suppose is the whole point, but it means there isn't a breath of air in the last pages, and you almost yearn for something to upset Flora's plans at the last minute. That said it's quite witty and clever throughout, and Stella Gibbons' sentence constructio
...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sad sacks.
This may be one of the funniest books ever written and I pick it up whenever I feel inclined to have a whine and a moan. The protagonist, Flora Poste, is a bracing antidote for anyone inclined to be a sad sack. A student of the higher common sense, she understands that there are few troubles in life than cannot be set to rights or at least ameliorated by good hygiene, good manners, correct thoughts, and the proper foundation garments.

What I admire most about Flora is her unwillingness to give in
...more
Duane
Cold Comfort Farm is a stinging satire and outrageously funny parody of the literature about rural English farm life, especially by Sheila Kaye-Smith, Mary Webb, and to a lesser extent, D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy. I haven't read much by the former mentioned authors to appreciate the full extent of Gibbons jabs, but it doesn't matter because the humor is obvious. Gibbons writing was very clever and her cast of characters would have made Dickens proud. Very funny and very entertaining. 4.5 sta ...more
Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

"For, if she lived at Cold Comfort as a guest, it would be unpardonable impertinence were she to interfere with the family's mode of living; but if she were paying her way, she could interfere as much as she pleased."

A wonderful novel, possibly the only modern classic I will ever fully enjoy. Not a comedy but a satire, but done with a love for pastoral classical writing that I think the author felt
...more
Lobstergirl
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Nineteen year old Flora Poste, freshly orphaned and impossibly jaunty, decides to live with strange, barely civilized relatives in rural Sussex. The Starkadders are a mix of fire and brimstone religiosity, untrammeled sexual urges, pathological family ties, feigned mental illness, and general slovenliness. Cold Comfort Farm is a 1932 parody of Thomas Hardy, the Brontës, and D.H. Lawrence, with themes of Pygmalion and the meddling of Emma Woodhouse thrown in, and jabs at Eugene O'Neill, avant gar ...more
emma
THIS BOOK RULES!!!!

I mean seriously, oh my god! It's funny. Flora (our protagonist) is a feminist queen of getting sh*t done and not taking anything from any man ever in the history of time. All the characters are hilarious. The language and voice are unreal. I want to live inside this book!!!!!

Well, just kidding. All of my trying-to-move-in-and-permanently-inhabit-a-fictional-world energies are currently taken up by the film Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again (2018). I am really tryna become Lily Jam
...more
Roman Clodia
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious! Review to come tomorrow...
-------------------------------------------------
This book was chosen by a book group in response to the general gloominess of January/February - and I found myself giggling throughout. The set-up is that Flora Poste, clutching her well-thumbed copy of The Higher Common Sense, finds herself living at Cold Comfort Farm, a ramshackle place inhabited by the Starkadder family all of whom have been reading far too much rural melodrama...

Gibbons has enormous fun w
...more
Beverly
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best satiric novel ever written, bar none. I loved the movie too.
Diane
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cold Comfort Farm is the perfect comfort read. It is a wonderful blend of British charm, comic characters, and a clever young woman at the heart of it all.

Flora Poste cannot abide a mess. After her parents died and left her with only 100 pounds a year, she decided to live off relatives for a while. She settles on some cousins, the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm in Sussex. When Flora arrives at the farm, she sets out to make some changes and tidy everything up, even if it means upsetting her st
...more
Alex
Virginia Woolf is enraged,

she writes to Elizabeth Bowen in 1932, that the esteemed Prix Etranger award has gone to someone named Stella Gibbons. "Who is she?" she asks. "What is this book?"

The Starkadders were not like most families. Life burned in them with a fiercer edge.

And when Flora Poste is flung among them in their great crouching, rotting farm, she immediately commences meddling. She aspires to write Persuasion, but she's more of an Emma herself - Emma accidentally transported to Northa
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Shelves: 1001-core, comedy, british
Frankly, I used to think that British humor was bland until while I was reading this book. This is so funny that even if I didn't probably get some of the nuances of the 30's small farm in Howling, Sussex because of the town folk's different dialects, the scenes are hilarious. Imagining them and converting those situations to our local barrio, makes me want to forget my dream of writing a memoir and instead write a similar short novel like this. Probably with my hometown, specifically the coconu ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.

Stella Gibbons turns her attention instead on having a good time and on romance, penning a rusticated novel of manners in which Flora Poste, a highly educated and sophisticated young lady from the London high society sets out to clear up the muddle of Cold Comfort Farm. The unprepared reader might be tempted to compare Gibbons with P G Wodehouse, and at least in one aspect, he/she will not be far off the mark : this is a laugh out loud comedy displaying
...more
Mike Puma
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-author, 2013
Review, of sorts, may be found in Message 1.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
If, like me, you've seen the 1996 movie adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, with Kate Beckinsale, Ian McKellan, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Rufus Sewell (mmmm yum!), you'll know that there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm and that Aunt Ada Doom saw something "narsty" in the woodshed when she was two. God I wish I had a memory like that! All the joys of the movie and more are in the book, a wonderful, clever, readable satire of the classic rural novel et al Thomas Hardy and the l ...more
Barry Pierce
Eh, it just wasn't for me. I really wanted to like this but it just felt too... saccharine. The sweetness of it turned sour in my mind. However, the writing is good and very simplistic, nobody would find any trouble with it. The cast of characters are very memorable and incredibly idiosyncratic. I did enjoy the parody of the novels of Hardy and the Brontës and such but it was very hit and miss for me. Oh well.
Roger Brunyate
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy-sorta
Rural Gothic

The humor of this glorious funny book resides mainly in Gibbons' masterly control of prose style; if you have only seen a filmed version, you know less than half of what the author has to offer. Yes, she creates a wonderful gallery of extraordinary characters, and the story clips along nicely if rather predictably, but it is the author's language that really gets you laughing out loud. Written in 1932, the book is a parody of a certain kind of rural melodrama popular at the time, but
...more
Antoinette
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a satire and an homage to famous British authors such as Jane Austen, the Bronte's and Thomas Hardy to name a few.
Flora Poste is a recently orphaned socialite of little means. She is nineteen years old. She can choose to work or to live with relatives. She chooses to live with her country relatives, the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. For one so young, she is a smart, savvy woman who decides she must improve the conditions on the farm. It was a joy to watch her work her magic. Thi
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Although I don't think this the comic masterpiece everyone else does, I was very struck by this passage on p93 - written in 1932, and seemingly predicting the 1960s. In London our heroine goes to a meeting of the Cinema Society :

"The audience had run to beards and magenta shirts and original ways of arranging its neckwear... it had sat through a film of Japanese life called 'Yes' made by a Norwegian film company in 1915 with Japanese actors, which lasted an hour and three-quarters and contained
...more
El
This is one of those books I've been trying to avoid for a while, inexplicably since I saw the 1995 movie, of which I remembered very little except for two words: Rufus. Sewell.

Oh, Rufus. It was this movie that made me fall for him, and then I saw Dark City, and that was it. Smitten. Don't ask me to explain it. I cannot. It would just be a stuttering mess of an anatomy lesson: "Cheekbones! Guh, eyes!" I don't know. It's just... when I see him, dirty things start happening inside. Maybe because i
...more
Anne
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stella Gibbons' affectionately comical nod to traditional Victorian novels had me laughing on the third page, when she explained a minor character's passion for her unparalleled, world-renowned collection of brassières. The characters in this book are so vividly realized, and they are all the more ridiculous for how seriously they take themselves.

The basic story, for anyone who is interested: When she is nineteen years old, Flora Poste's parents die, and as she does not want to earn her living,
...more
Jennifer
May 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1001-bymr, lapl
I began this book thinking: "Wow, very witty, very interesting, very much in the 4 star range..." To: "Umm...less interesting than I thought, but engagingly quirky and the English humor isn't bad...maybe 3 stars" And finally: "O.K. this is just stupid. The main character reminds me of Mary Poppins meets the setting of "Napoleon Dynamite" where he works on that creepy farm and the weathered farmhand offers him raw egg-juice...this is a slightly funny 2 stars and I hope I can get through the last ...more
Kathleen
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“But her spirit was of that rare brand which becomes cold and pleased at the prospect of a battle, and her dismay did not last.”

In this short novel you’ll be treated to an extensive brassiere collection, a group of cows with the best names ever (Graceless, Aimless, Feckless and Pointless), and a mystery about something that must have been pretty darn nasty that happened in the woodshed. You’ll be guided along by Jane Austen, D.H. Laurence, and a book I wish was real called “The Higher Common Sen
...more
Meredith Holley
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wodehouse fans?
I found this story positively delightful. It is true, what you hear, that it is very put-down-able, but that is something I appreciate about it. And it definitely picks up steam about halfway through. It is about a very sensible girl, who uses her good sense to clean up a family. I think it’s a lot like Polyanna (I’ve only seen the Hayley Mills movie, but I imagine the book has to be pretty similar), but creepy instead of saccharine. It has this P.G. Wodehouse feel of calm irony in the face of d ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I didn't get the joke. :/
J.
Meals at the farm were eaten in silence. If anyone spoke at all during the indigestible twenty minutes which served them for dinner or supper, it was to pose some awkward question, which, when answered, led to a blazing row; as, for example : 'Why has not (whichever member of the family was absent from table) -- come in to her food?' or 'Why has not - the barranfield been gone over a second time with the pruning snoot?' On the whole, Flora liked it better when they were silent, though it did ra
...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbr, classics
I picked this up at the beginning of a mini reading slump, and then read almost nothing of it for two weeks until yesterday when I finally settled down and bombed through it in two sittings. It was exactly the remedy to contemporary fiction fatigue. The story of breezy, capable Flora and her mission to transform the lives of her desperately dirty and repressed relatives at Cold Comfort Farm is both funny and genuine. I found the descriptions of the Sussex Downs unexpectedly lovely, in spite of - ...more
Emily
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Starkadders
My love for the film version of this book is a bit ridiculous. I mean, I could watch it over and over and over and over again. It makes me smile just to think about it. Haven't we all seen something nasty in the woodshed?

The book is also highly pleasurable. Part of the pleasure for me, is just in remembering those extraordinary scenes I'd seen on-screen - but the NEW pleasure is the absolute genius of Stella Gibbons' prose. I mean, damn, she can write a funny sentence even while describing some
...more
Nicki Markus
I came to this book wanting to like it and wanting to find it funny...but I was disappointed.

I found the storyline a let down and never really cared about any of the characters who all seemed one dimensional.

I read to the end to find out the answer to the mystery only to discover the author never bothers to tell us, which left me annoyed.

I have given it two stars as I didn't loathe it - but I didn't feel it deserved more as I just never felt any real interest or excitement in it.

This is not a bo
...more
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Stella Dorothea Gibbons was an English novelist, journalist, poet and short-story writer.

Her first novel, Cold Comfort Farm, won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize for 1933. A satire and parody of the pessimistic ruralism of Thomas Hardy, his followers and especially Precious Bain by Mary Webb -the "loam and lovechild" genre, as some called it, Cold Comfort Farm introduces a self-confident young woman,
...more
“One of the disadvantages of almost universal education was the fact that all kinds of persons acquired a familiarity with one's favorite writers. It gave one a curious feeling; it was like seeing a drunken stranger wrapped in one's dressing gown.” 94 likes
“Well, when I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as Persuasion but with a modern setting, of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it. If anyone asks me what I work at, I shall say, 'Collecting material'. No one can object to that.” 70 likes
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